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2020 Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize Shortlist
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2020 Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize Shortlist

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Rakuten Kobo, in search of the best books written by debut Canadian authors, today announced the shortlist for its sixth annual Emerging Writer Prize. The award was created with the intention of bringing literary recognition, and kick-starting the careers of debut Canadian authors. A $10,000 CAD cash prize will be awarded to a book in each of three categories: Nonfiction, Literary Fiction and Genre Fiction (Speculative Fiction this year). In addition, each winning author receives promotional, marketing and ongoing communications support throughout 2020. After hundreds of applications, the 2020 shortlist was selected by Kobo’s team of expert booksellers, who read each book, and considered customer ratings and reviews. The shortlist comprises five to six books from each category, and now three bestselling Canadian author judges have the difficult task of choosing the winners: Timothy Caulfield for Nonfiction, Marissa Stapley for Literary Fiction, and Andrew Pyper for Speculative Fiction. The winners will be announced in mid-to-late June, 2020. Details
Melting Queen, The

Melting Queen, The

edition:Paperback

Shortlisted for the Sixth Annual Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize - Literary Fiction Category!

Every year since 1904, when the ice breaks up on the North Saskatchewan River, Edmonton has crowned a Melting Queen--a woman who presides over the Melting Day spring carnival and who must keep the city's spirits up over the following winter. But this year, something has changed: a genderfluid ex-frat brother called River Runson is named as Melting Queen. As River's reign upends the city's century-old …

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Excerpt

1
After a long winter

 

I go to the river every day to see if it's finally free.

Before the sun rises--before daylight comes to illuminate a miserable world, before dawn chases away the endless possibilities of night--I shuffle out onto the barren streets of this godforsaken city.

Edmonton. A prairie town, crushed flat by huge, heavy skies. A northern outpost, encased in ice for months on end. Its houses huddle together against the cold wind, which digs its claws under doors and around window frames. Its roads are lined with mountain ranges of dirt-encrusted snow, painted orange by weak sodium streetlights. Its people sleep, dreaming of summer. Dreaming of somewhere far away.

I dream of green grass and running water as I walk to the river. My boots crunch on the salt-stained sidewalks. The dry air scratches at my skin, flaying my nostrils for daring to inhale, trying to force me back to bed. But I bow my head against the winds and soldier on, driven by the tiniest ember of hope.

When I reach the stairs that lead down into the river valley, I close my eyes and look out at the landscape. I let my desperate dreams flare up, projecting my desires onto the world. I imagine myself looking out on a shattered river, freed from its icy prison. I say a prayer to all the ancient gods of the earth and the river:
Please. Let it be today. Let the ice break. Let winter end.

But every day for the past six months I've been disappointed. The world defies my dreams. I stand on the top step and open my eyes and see a solid ribbon of dead white ice. The river is held captive, its waters locked in place. The skeletal trees along its banks stretch their brittle branches toward the sky. Tufts of blanched grass poke up through heaped snowbanks. The whole river valley--emerald green in summer, golden yellow in fall, blossoming pink in spring--is trapped in grey stasis.

I swallow my disappointment and start down the stairs, to search the ice forsigns of fracture.

Edmonton is a typical grid city. It sprawls out over the flat, wheat-stubbled prairie like a smashed egg oozing across a crumb-covered kitchen floor. Its perfect, rectangular blocks are completely interchangeable. They stretch to the horizon like the world's easiest and most boring jigsaw puzzle. Apartments and restaurants and office blocks. Schools and houses and strip malls. Every part of this city looks the same: short, squat, and square.

But the river valley is different. The river rips this city in two. It carves a winding path through the heart of Edmonton, pulling the paved-over prairie down into a deep crevasse. The orderly grid of streets unravels into nonsensical curves. The structured metropolis gives way to a wild urban forest. Two dozen bridges stretch across the river, pulling the two halves of the city together like stitches trying in vain to close a wound.

I've walked across each of them, inspecting the ice from above. I hunt for some hint of a crack, some hope of an imminent collapse. But the ice is flawless, pristine, spread from shore to shore like a starched white sheet. It's just as strong today as it was yesterday, and it was just as strong yesterday as the day before that. And the day before that. And the day before that.

It's been six months since the First Snow fell. Six months since that grim fall day when frosty lily pads started to clog the river. The longest winter in living memory. It should've been spring weeks ago, but still the ice locks the river in place. It's the middle of May, and there are still no signs of summer.

After a while, my inspection of the ice becomes too depressing. The sun comes up, my dreams of spring evaporate in the pale white light, and I start to believe that the river will never be free. Winter will last forever.

I stand on the High Level Bridge, stare down at the thick white ice, and wonder what it would take to break it. Would an object, falling from a great enough height, have enough force to shatter the river and free us all from the tyranny of winter? I've flirted with the idea--hauling a bunch of rocks up to the bridge deck and throwing them down with all my strength. Or dragging one of the historical cannons from the Legislature grounds and tipping it over the railing. Or just taking a tiny step forward...

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Only Pretty Damned

Only Pretty Damned

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : noir, historical, crime

Shortlisted for the Sixth Annual Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize - Literary Fiction Category!

Niall Howell's Only Pretty Damned is a taut noir that takes you behind the big top, revealing rough and tumble characters, murderous plots, and crooked schemes designed to keep Rowland's World Class Circus afloat for another season. When Toby, former trapeze artist turned disgruntled clown, begins seeing Gloria, a young and beautiful dancer longing for a bigger role under the spotlight, his hardboiled …

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It's been three years since Wally Jakes died, and not a day goes by that I don't think of the old bastard.

The other chumps around this place, well, I'm sure they think of Wally often too--at least the ones who were around during the infamous Jake-obean era--but not as often as I do. And certainly not in the same way as I do.

See, Wally had a personality that was an acquired taste in the same way that sucking vinegar from a mangy sponge is an acquired taste. Nobody could stand the guy. Nobody except me. But then, I have a high tolerance for all things acidic.

I respected Wally, though I could sure see why others had a hard time digesting him. He was loud-mouthed, crass, insensitive, and horribly opinionated. He rarely shaved or showered, and dental hygiene mattered to him about as much as arithmetic matters to a snowman. And if all that weren't enough, Wally Jakes was also uglier than a couple of rats fucking on top of a pile of trash, which was partially due to a horse booting him square in the kisser when he was a kid, and partially due to him just being Wally Jakes. He was a natural pariah, born to be detested.

But as I said, I respected the guy. He wasn't a performer, like me, but I think that once you got right down to it, he and I were pretty much the same. Now, I don't mean to say that I'm a walking aerosolized can of human-repellant, like Wally, but on the inside, on the inside where it really mattered, we were the same. If you were to take a blade and carve us both down to our respective cores, once you scraped off all the pulpy muck and rinsed away the blood, you'd be staring at a matching set. Two of a kind. You see, like me, Wally did whatever needed to be done to keep things running around here. One day you'd see him tearing tickets, the next you'd see him cramming a suppository into an elephant's ass. Whatever the task, if it needed to be done, Wally would do it. He knew damn well that the show mattered more than anything. More than anything at all.

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Making it Home

Making it Home

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

Tinker Gordon doesn’t want anything to change. He thinks that if he holds on tightly enough, his family, his tiny Cape Breton Island community, his very world will stay exactly the way it has always been. But explosions large and small—a world away, in the Middle East, in the land of opportunity in western Canada, and in his own home in Falkirk Cove—threaten to turn everything Tinker has ever known upside down.

Set variously in the heart of rural Cape Breton, on the war-torn streets of Alep …

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Crow

Crow

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged : literary, humorous

Winner, IPPY Award for Best First Book - Fiction
Shortlisted, Margaret and John Savage First Book Award, Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award, Leacock Award for Humour, Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for Literary Fiction
This Crow will ruffle a few feathers.

When Stacey Fortune is diagnosed with three highly unpredictable — and inoperable — brain tumours, she abandons the crumbling glamour of her life in Toronto for her mother Effie's scruffy trailer in rural Cape Breton. Back home, she's known as Cr …

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Different Beasts

Different Beasts

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Shortlisted, Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for Speculative Fiction
Canada's answer to Chuck Palahniuk.

A bear runs amok in a luxury hotel. A daily swim at the local pool becomes a question of life or death. The champion of a border wall faces an unexpected adversary.

The twelve stories in Different Beasts ask what it means to be both human and monster. Shape-shifting waifs, haunted stuffies, scavenging drones, insectoid demon-gods, and mutant angels all come to life in this wildly imagined debut. As …

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